• Vol. 33 No. 5, 623–629
  • 15 September 2004

A Study on SARS Awareness and Health-seeking Behaviour – Findings from a Sampled Population Attending National Healthcare Group Polyclinics



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Introduction: The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of massive SARS public education effort on SARS awareness and the conduct of those suspected of having SARS.

Materials and Methods: Five hundred and ninety-three respondents attending the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP) participated in the survey from 9 to 13 June 2003. Associations between awareness of SARS symptoms and (i) first action to be taken and (ii) mode of transportation used, if the respondent was suspected of having SARS, were analysed using Chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests. Logistic regression was performed to adjust for relevant covariates.

Results: The majority (92.7%) of the respondents were aware of SARS symptoms. Television (91.6%), newspaper (65.2%) and radio (30.4%) formed the top 3 sources of information on SARS. Slightly more than half (51.6%) of those who suspect themselves of having SARS would choose to visit their primary health care doctors, while 22.7% of the respondents would go to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). If they suspected themselves to have SARS, most (84.9%) of the 578 respondents would react appropriately by taking the SARS ambulance or driving themselves to TTSH. However, 60 respondents would nonetheless take public transport to TTSH [by taxi 8.5%, mass rapid transit (MRT) or bus 1.9%]. In particular, the retired with lower educational levels were likely to be oblivious both to the symptoms of SARS and the possible consequences of travelling by inappropriate transport.

Conclusion: Despite more than 2 months of intensive SARS public education in Singapore, there remain important gaps in knowledge and appropriate behaviour that have to be bridged.

There was a worldwide outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) caused by the novel coronavirus between November 2002 and July 2003. Singapore was one of the hot spots, in addition to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Toronto and Vietnam.

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